Jonathan Broder

Ukrainian President Pleads for Military Aid Before Congress

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued an impassioned plea for U.S. weaponry Thursday to help his country’s defense against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists that Moscow has been supporting for the past year.

Fears of Israeli Spying Underlie Reluctance on Visa Waiver Program

Lawmakers and staffers on two House committees are concerned that admitting Israel to a program that eases entry of foreigners into the United States would increase the risk of Israeli espionage, congressional aides say.

Ukraine's Neighbors Urge Expansion of U.S. Gas Exports

The crisis in Ukraine has injected a new element of Cold War politics, as well as a supporting cast of European diplomats and Washington lobbyists, into the debate on Capitol Hill over natural-gas exports.

Durbin Accepts Endorsement From Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel J Street

Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, accepted an endorsement Monday from J Street, the pro-Israel lobby and political action committee whose moderate positions on Middle East peace have clashed with those of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish PACs that follow its hard-line political directives.

Durbin, gearing up to run for re-election in 2014, is now the most senior Democrat to seek and receive J Street’s stamp of approval since the organization began endorsing candidates in 2008.

Lawmakers Split on Next Steps After Syria's Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons

The White House’s assessment of Syria’s likely use of chemical weapons in its civil war has intensified calls on Capitol Hill for more aggressive U.S. intervention there, but lawmakers are far from agreeing on what any greater American role would look like.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday captured lawmakers’ outrage and ambivalence over Syria when she described the intelligence community’s analysis of Syria’s chemical weapons use as having “medium to high” confidence.

Lawmakers Talking Tougher on Syria, While Warning Obama to Consult Congress

Republicans and Democrats appeared to rally behind President Barack Obama on Wednesday, echoing his warning that Syria’s use of chemical weapons against anti-government insurgents would be a “game-changer” requiring a more aggressive policy toward that country.

But Speaker John A. Boehner and senators in both parties made it clear that they want the White House to consult with Congress before taking action in Syria, particularly if it involves U.S. military intervention.

Military Contingency Planning Under Way for Syria Intervention

The top U.S. military commander in Europe said Tuesday that NATO forces are preparing contingency plans for operations in Syria if called upon to do so by the United Nations.

“We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared — if called upon — to be engaged as we were in Libya,” Adm. James G. Stavridis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee as the war in Syria entered its third year. NATO forces led the military effort last year that toppled Libyan strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi.

AIPAC Floods Hill to Advocate for Israel

Battalions of pro-Israel advocates marched up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday in a vigorous lobbying campaign to win support for tighter sanctions against Iran, relief for Israel aid from automatic spending cuts, and a new designation of the Jewish state as a “major strategic ally,” a status that would help insulate Israel from any further aid cuts.

Wrapping up the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, more than 13,000 members of the powerful Israel lobby from all over the United States visited the offices of all members of the House and Senate — an indication of the bipartisan reach and influence of the group in both chambers.

Republicans Blast Obama Over North Korean Nuclear Test

Senior Republicans on Tuesday used North Korea’s latest nuclear test to attack President Barack Obama’s foreign policies and his reported plans to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“The Obama administration must replace its failed North Korea policy with one that is energetic, creative and focused on crippling the Kim regime’s military capabilities through stringent sanctions that tackle its illicit activities and cuts off its flow of hard currency,” California’s Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a written statement, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “Otherwise, the grave North Korean threat to the region and the United States will only grow.”

Bipartisan Senate Group Calls for Egypt Aid Restructure

The Senate’s rejection last month of an effort to end all military aid to Egypt showed lawmakers aren’t ready yet to give up on Washington’s long-standing strategic alliance with Cairo, despite the anti-Western rhetoric and repressive tactics used by the country’s new Islamist government.

Still, a bipartisan group of senators would like to restructure the annual $1.3 billion military aid package for Egypt, America’s second-largest recipient of aid, after Israel.

'Mission Creep' Poses Challenge

As U.S. lawmakers anxiously track Egypt’s post-revolutionary struggles, they’re also following the fortunes of a little-publicized group of Americans who have found themselves caught up in Egypt’s most pressing internal security problems.

Nearly 700 U.S. soldiers are camped in the Sinai desert, making up almost half of the 12-nation Multinational Force and Observers, established in 1981 to monitor the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Officially, their job is to make sure Egypt abides by the treaty’s strict limits on troops and armor in a strip of the Sinai along the Israeli border. For more than three decades, they had little to report.

White House Working To Shape Iran Sanctions

After successfully diluting the Iran sanctions provision that senators attached to the defense policy bill, the Obama administration is now seeking several additional, more modest changes to the language in the final bill, including an extension of the amount of time it has to implement the penalties.

The White House and Senate Democrats worked hard behind the scenes to strip some of the broader elements of the sanctions package before it was introduced as an amendment to the defense bill (S 3254) last month, a process spearheaded by the chairmen of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Banking committees, according to senior congressional aides.

A Kerry Cabinet Job Spells More Combative Senate

The Senate has displayed a general deference toward the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the past four years, but it could become a far more raucous and combative place if Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry is tapped to join the Cabinet.

The Massachusetts Democrat is on President Barack Obama’s short list for secretary of State or Defense, and Kerry would almost certainly breeze through confirmation (unlike another possible nominee for State, U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice).

Senators: Syria Chemical Weapons Warrant Action

Calls for a tougher U.S. policy against Syria intensified Thursday as a bipartisan group of senators urged President Barack Obama to threaten regime-toppling military action if President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons against rebels trying to drive him from power.

Speaking at a hastily arranged news conference, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.; and Chris Coons, D-Del., cited recent media reports about intelligence suggesting Syrian troops had mixed precursor chemicals for a deadly nerve gas and that the weapons might be loaded into bombs and artillery shells for use in the fighting.

Paul Softens Opposition on Israel Foreign Aid

Sen. Rand Paul, an outspoken opponent of all foreign aid, is ready to make an exception for Israel.

The freshman Kentucky Republican, who is considering a 2016 presidential run, still says the United States should reduce its spending by cutting foreign assistance to countries such as Egypt and Libya, where U.S. diplomatic missions have been attacked. He also wants to halt aid to Pakistan until it releases from jail a local doctor who helped U.S. forces in the operation that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

With Gaza Cease-Fire, Obama Pledges More Missile Defense Funding for Israel

As a cease-fire was announced in the week-long fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, President Barack Obama promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he would seek additional funding from Congress for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense efforts.

The House and Senate — whose benches are filled with pro-Israel lawmakers from both parties — are virtually guaranteed to approve any such request from the president. The missile defense aid would come on top of the roughly $3 billion in military aid that Israel receives annually from the United States.

Lawmakers Warn Egypt: Collar Hamas

As Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip continues with no let-up in sight, lawmakers are focusing their attention on Egypt, warning that country’s new president to rein in the militant group Hamas or risk U.S. aid.

“Egypt, watch what you do and how you do it,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “You’re teetering with Congress on having your aid cut off if you keep inciting violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Debate Preview: Looking Tough, but Not Too Tough, on Foreign Policy

President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney face off for the last time in tonight’s foreign policy debate with starkly different challenges as they near the end of their fight to be the next commander in chief.

Obama, who has seen his once-sizable lead in national polls vanish, will try to press what has been an advantage on foreign affairs to make the case that Romney’s inexperience on foreign policy risks more war, more blood and more treasure.

GOP Discord Complicates Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy Message

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been criticized in the media for a lack of thoughtful or detailed foreign policy prescriptions, but the discord among Republicans in Congress last week showed why he might need to tread carefully on the subject as the new GOP standard-bearer.

With the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others, as well as other attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East dominating the news last week, competing schools of Republican thought played out in Congress, highlighting Romney's difficulty in saying more.

Foreign Policy: Seeing an Opening on Israel
GOP Hopes Small Gain in the Jewish Vote Wins Some Close Calls

Normally, foreign policy doesn’t figure too highly in Congressional races, where parochial, or at least domestic, matters dominate. But this year, Republicans are making support for Israel a major issue in several competitive contests in an effort to take Jewish votes away from Democrats — and in the process, gain control of the Senate and stabilize their majority in the House.

Past Republican efforts to attract more Jewish support have not been successful. As the conservative Jewish author Milton Himmelfarb once quipped, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” referring to another dependably Democratic constituency. But GOP operatives believe that unease among Jews over the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel presents a unique opportunity to win a bigger slice of Jewish campaign donations and more of their votes up and down the ballot come November.